Saturday, September 18, 2010

REO Speedwagon Way

REO SpeedwagonI'm guessing the 80s rock group, REO Speedwagon, must have gotten their start here in central Illinois because there's a street named after them in downtown Champaign. I ran into it by accident on my way "home" from running a few errands, one of which took me to the northern edge of the University of Illinois. I was driving through the Greek community (sorority/fraternity row), when a turn onto my street led me across REO Speedwagon Way aka Main Street.

I'm mentioning this because it just seems so unlike what I expected. This is corn country where multiple FM stations broadcast church services on Sunday and you can walk around the local mall without feeling like you've tried out for an Iron Man competition. Saturday is clearly market day and the traffic reminds me why I've come to appreciate life in Maine so much. Not because people drive crazily -- far from it -- but simply because there are so many going the same direction as me. It was as though they all decided, "There's Beggar, let's follow him," while I felt like saying, "No, no, I'm new here, follow someone else!"

The past couple of days we've been reviewing the key elements of biochemistry, learning how to abstract a whole series of medical tidbits from a single concept. For example, let's take proteinuria, which means protein has been found in the urine. Now, urine is not where you'd ordinarily expect to find protein, any more than downtown Champaign is a place I'd have expected to find REO Speedwagon Way.

If a patient is losing protein, they would likely present with weakness, shortness of breath, elevated heart rate, and have problems tolerating exercise. So, then you start asking yourself where the protein might be coming from. It could be muscle tissue, maybe the kidneys, and that leads you down the path toward diagnostic possibilities. It's the kind of process a person would use in a clinical setting. Applying similar principles to taking an examination reduces the amount of brain cells you have to devote to rote memorization. And since I seem to have a relatively limited number anyway, memorizing tends to use them up fast.

Once again, I find myself surprised over what I'm discovering here. It's kind of like, who knew there was so much tucked away in middle America and all a person had to do was look.

(Creative Commons image of an REO Speedwagon by jcbwalsh via Flickr)

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